Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern Tuesday joined the rarefied list of foreign leaders who have addressed the US Congress, lauding the US for its efforts throughout history to support the cause of peace in Ireland, the dpa reported .
"After so many decades of conflict, I am so proud to be the first Irish leader to inform the United States Congress: Ireland is at peace," he said. "Our dream, and the dream of all of the friends of Ireland in America and across the world, has come true."
Ahern is set to step down as prime minister on Tuesday and from his leadership of the Fianna Fail party amid accusations about his personal finances.
Ahern was due to meet US President George W Bush privately after the speech.
The Irish leader is the first Irish prime minister to address a joint meeting of Congress - an honour bestowed on foreign leaders about 100 times in the country's 232-year history.
Ahern, who was greeted with cheers and applause, was invited by House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi in recognition of his endeavours in the Northern Ireland peace process.
" America and Ireland have something that goes beyond a friendship between countries," he said. "To be an Irishman among Americans is to be at home."
Ahern invoked struggles of the Irish both at home and as immigrants in the US, and said the Irish people hold a torch for freedom around the world and have often served in UN peacekeeping missions.
"Never has the expression the global village" been more appropriate," Ahren said, explaining that finding peace in Ireland has empowered his country's desire to aid in solving world issues.
"The great challenges that we face in the 21st century are truly global. Falling financial markets, rising food and energy prices and climate change are global phenomena," he said.